At the end of every year, we work for weeks curating our annual Best of the Year list (here’s last year’s). We’re monitoring what comes out all year though, so this month I thought: why wait? Here’s a more impulsive and spontaneous list, some songs we’ve written about already and others we didn’t get to. Just some great covers that stood out as the month comes to a close.
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
Kelly Clarkson is a genuine pop idol – idol is the key word there. She found fame as the original winner of American Idol back in 2002, mostly on the strength of her amazing voice. Not content to simply rest on those laurels, she quickly put her TV show winner past behind her and sought out a bigger, different sound. Her second album, Breakaway, accomplished that; she netted the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album and sold over fifteen million copies. That’s not bad for an album used as a statement piece about taking control of her own career.
Clarkson has continued refining her sound. At times she’s flirted with rock, as she did with the My December album. She’s indulged in country music as well, duetting with Reba McEntire on several occasions, finally leading to their co-headlining 2 Worlds 2 Voices tour in 2008. No matter what she chooses to sing, Kelly brings that amazing voice. Rolling Stone‘s Arion Berger said that “her high notes are sweet and pillowy, her growl is bone-shaking and sexy, and her midrange is amazingly confident.” With that kind of instrument at her command, any song she chooses to sing is worth listening to.
Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.
Sara Lov first made a name for herself with the Devics, an indie dream pop-rock (for openers) L.A. band with a small but highly appreciated catalog. Since they came to a close, she’s released two full albums and is working on a third. She’s a fine songwriter, but has shown a special flair for cover songs; whether the original is too cool for school or the guiltiest of pleasures, she makes it matter without making it unapproachable.